As it happens this book is the one that just received a very stale offer of advancement after four years. Yes, I have a new title. Yes, it is most probably different from what those people read. Anyhow, here is the first snippet from Chapter one.
“Look, I think it is time to call it quits.” John’s voice sounded crisp, clear and rehearsed on the other end of the phone as if he had studied for the part. “We don’t move in the same circles anymore, and I certainly don’t want noisy brats invading my space. You made it clear that you do.”
A woman’s throaty laugh sounded close to him, too close. Someone was there, with him, listening to him give her the brush off. Ella started shaking. The oak-beamed room blurred under a veil of tears. A lump grew in her throat. What had happened to her husband? Who was this stranger with his voice?
“I’ve paid the rent on the cottage up to the end of this month, in two days’ time, and I handed in our notice. The landlord just told me it is let, so you need to be out tomorrow. I have also removed your name from my bank account.” More throaty whispers came from the vicinity of the receiver followed by John’s low-toned ‘Hush’. “I am suing you for divorce on grounds of adultery. Don’t imagine you will get any alimony out of me.”
Adultery, the word jumped down the line and carved into her heart. “That is not true!” Ella’s voice came out in a squeak. How could he say these things to her? She had never even looked at another man since he came into her life and who was that woman with him listening in to a private phone call? If anyone was having an affair it was him.
“I have pictures of you with another man, someone who is prepared to come forward. The pictures show a very good view of that disgusting birthmark on your leg. If you try to fight me, I will see to it you never work again.”
He could do that, the big name movie star. He could set people up to act the part, with a little help of Photoshop to reproduce her single blemish, an unusual pattern of freckles shaped like a trident. What was the fate of a make-up artist to film producers by comparison to the needs of the big star? Why hadn’t she seen this coming? They had been so happy, or so she had thought. Her dream, her illusion, built on the bones of an unknown actor and her with a foot in the industry, meeting and getting together, making sure he got the right introductions to the right people.
“One more thing, do you think you could find my passport? I am flying out to work on location in Australia next week so could you leave it on the coffee table for my agent to collect? Cooperate with me and I might consider giving you a reasonable one-time payoff.”
Money, it was all about money and lust. John had a nasty habit of accusing others of his own flaws in any disagreement, so she guess the woman by his side was his current woman. Cold logic began to take over from the pain and shock. He had been caught by the paparazzi with some bimbo. He couldn’t risk his image, so this was going to be her fault for cheating on him. How he must have scrambled to manufacture his evidence. Ella didn’t know this person anymore. Four years of living an illusion of love came down to a moment on the phone.
“I will be gone first thing in the morning. I take it you haven’t canceled the lease on my car?”
“No, I was too late. You have it for one more month, not that you’ll need it for much longer. I imagine you’ll want to go back to the States.”
Ella put the phone down very gently. They were done. It didn’t matter whatever else he might want to say. Through it all the smell of a roast wafted from the tiny kitchen; a supper they were to have shared together by candlelight. The supper he had told her to get ready to celebrate his new contract and their four year anniversary. Maybe she could salvage it to take with her.
He was right on one score; she was not going to stay on this damp and crowded island, despite the lure of its history. The Tudor cottage, with it blackened oak beams now sharpened her loss. This was to have been their love nest where they raised their first child together, for it looked as if John was going to be based in England for a few more years. The overstuffed chintz furniture wasn’t theirs. The place had come fully furnished so she didn’t have to worry about getting removal people to come in, or sorting through what she wanted to keep. She should pack her clothes to make an early start since she didn’t want to see his agent. Move, do something, so she didn’t have to think—do anything.
The narrow stairs creaked when she went up to their bedroom, her bedroom now for just this night. What to take? The tools of her trade for sure, but the rest? Where would she need designer dresses again? She left them hanging, along with her wedding gown. What would fit into the tiny foreign car? Pack the practical work clothes and leave the rest. She didn’t want to pack more than she could book in at the airport.
Two large suitcases full of clothes later to haul down the stairs and Ella realized she had no idea where she was headed. A person couldn’t simply head to London and jump on a plane, although that was what she had been thinking before her mind woke up. It had to be booked, and she had no money, not now he had closed their joint account. God, did she have to go cap in hand to beg him to buy her a seat? No, there was the boat. Frantic now, she attacked the Georgian bureau for her passport, driver’s license, birth certificate and the deeds for her boat. It was in her name—his gift to her when he had scored his first blockbuster. Fairy Child was ocean going and would fetch a good price, maybe enough to set her up without begging from him. Yes, she could go to the West Country and live on the boat until a buyer came along. If she were quick, she could stock it up with provisions before he thought to cancel her Visa card. No doubt that would be done at the end of the month. Tonight, she had to leave tonight.
Ella hauled the suitcase with her work stuff out to the tiny car, flipping up the tail gate to heave in the heavy burden. Light rain anointed her face with sky tears. Clouds covered the stars and the moon, making for a dark and grim night of driving. She didn’t care. All she wanted was to be away from the ruin of her dreams. Two more case and then put the food in containers to take whatever she could. Yes, she would need that tomorrow. She ran for the door.
A hand snaked out, covering her mouth. An arm wrapped around her, stopping her from moving. Oh God, oh God, nothing more bad, please don’t let this be happening.